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Judicial Conference Approves Measures to Increase Security for Federal Judges

A series of recommendations to upgrade and expand security for federal judges and increase Congressional funding to support the security program have been approved by the federal Judiciary’s national policy-making body.

“The horror that Judge Esther Salas experienced less than a month ago underscores the urgent need for this action,” said James C. Duff, Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The measures approved by the Judicial Conference:

  • Seek legislation to enhance the protection of judges’ personally identifiable information, particularly on the internet.    
  • Support the development of a resource, in coordination with the U.S. Marshals Service, to monitor the public availability of judges’ personally identifiable information, inform judges of security vulnerabilities created by this information, and where necessary, advise the appropriate law enforcement of an inappropriate communication.
  • Support additional appropriations for the upgrade, installation, and continued sustainment of the Home Intrusion Detection Systems program to ensure that it is in line with current security capabilities and technologies.
  • Support funding for the U.S. Marshals Service for additional deputy U.S. Marshals in accordance with the District Staffing Model and pursuant to the U.S. Marshals Service annual appropriations request.
  • Support a direct appropriation to the Federal Protective Service (FPS) to fund the required upgrades for and cyclical maintenance of the security camera systems it manages at U.S. courthouses.

“My son’s death cannot be in vain, which is why I am begging those in power to do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench,” Judge Salas said in a video statement earlier this month.

“I know this is a complicated issue, and I don’t pretend to know or have all the answers, but together we can find a way,” she said. “Let’s commence a national dialogue, let’s work collaboratively to find a solution that will safeguard the privacy of federal judges.”

In the aftermath of the tragic attack on Judges Salas’ husband and son, the Judicial Security Committee of the Judicial Conference convened an emergency meeting to consider recommendations to improve physical security of federal judges. The committee recommended five security-related provisions, which were approved by the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference two days later.

“Each of these provisions are long-standing issues of concern to the Judicial Security Committee,” said committee chair Judge David W. McKeague. “We believe a comprehensive approach must be taken to address the security vulnerabilities that exist today.”

The judiciary will aggressively advocate for the recommended legislation and funding needs to carry out these initiatives.

The 26-member Judicial Conference is the policy-making body for the federal court system. The Executive Committee is the senior executive arm of the Conference and acts on behalf of the Conference on timely matters that arise between the Conference’s biannual meetings. By statute, the Chief Justice of the United States serves as presiding officer of the Judicial Conference and its members are the chief judges of the 13 courts of appeals, a district judge from each of the 12 geographic circuits, and the chief judge of the Court of International Trade. The Conference convenes twice a year to consider administrative and policy issues affecting the court system, and to make recommendations to Congress concerning legislation involving the Judicial Branch.